The Stamp and Coin Place Blog: connecting the past and present of stamp and coin collecting, and looking to the future.

Antique Inventions: The Montgolfier’s Flying Balloon

Today our inventions consist of new iPhones or tablets or some kind of new technology that can fit in the palms of our hands. But in the past, some inventions were much bigger and more ambitious.

Some of those impressive feats were “flying machines.” Before the invention of airplanes, countless people had tried making their own machines to launch humans into the air and give them the ability to fly like birds.Aeronautics_02505u-repair

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin, 1892

The brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier created the first hot air balloon. It all began when Joseph experimented with a box covered with taffeta and lit a fire under it. When the compartment immediately lifted off the ground, Joseph knew he was on to something. He immediately wrote to his brother Etienne, and the two soon set to building a device three times larger. On their first test flight, the device was lifted with so much force that they lost control of it.Montgolfier_brothers_flight

The first living things inside the balloons were a duck, a rooster and a sheep together in the basket, which occurred in front of a crowd and King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette at the royal palace in Versailles.

The first human flight took place on November 21, 1783, when two people rode a Montgolfier balloon over Paris for 25 minutes. It landed safely, although the fire had scorched parts of the balloon’s fabric.

As we all know, the hot air balloon was perfected with the help of other inventors and has served its use as a fun pastime ever since.

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